Could Solo Drinking During Your Teens Predict Alcohol Use Disorder As An Adult?

If you tend to drink alcohol alone, especially if you are a teen, you may be more prone to alcohol use disorder (AUD) as an adult, according to a recent study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

While many young people who drink alcohol typically do so in a social setting, Kasey Creswell, an associate professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the lead author of the study, notes that there is a significant number of young people who drink alone (via HealthDay).

Even when the researchers accounted for common risk factors such as frequency of drinking, binge drinking, and gender, among others, the results indicated that being a solo drinker during your teen years or young adult life is itself a predictor of future issues with alcohol. According to the researchers, this may be because solo drinkers often drink alcohol to cope with negative emotions.

Of the 4,500 participants that the study followed from the age of 18 through age 35, roughly 25% of adolescents and 40% of young adults reported drinking alone. These results combined with the increased levels of anxiety and depression related to the pandemic suggest that America's youth may experience a rise in alcohol issues, Creswell said.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), death resulting from alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States and roughly 95,000 Americans die annually from alcohol-related issues.

Alcohol Use Disorder symptoms and treatment

The Mayo Clinic states that those diagnosed with alcohol use disorder exhibit a pattern of behaviors such as issues controlling their drinking, requiring more alcohol to get the same drunken effect, and still drinking even when alcohol consumption is causing problems. Alcohol use disorder can be relatively mild but can become more severe over time.

There are a number of symptoms associated with alcohol abuse disorder, but only some may manifest, depending on the severity of the condition. These signs can include trying to cut down on drinking alcohol but being unable to do so, constant craving alcohol, consuming alcohol while driving or in other situations when it's unsafe, and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you haven't had a drink, such as nausea, sweating or shaking, among other symptoms, per Mayo Clinic.

If you believe you may be having issues with alcohol consumption, the experts at the Mayo Clinic advise that you speak to your doctor or a mental health professional. They also suggest visiting a self-help group such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).